As we launch the final push in our Pennies for our Heroes appeal to honour the area’s World War One soldiers, we want to tell you themoving story of brave soldier Walter Charity.
He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery after pulling his comrades out of the trenches by a stretcher, despite being badly injured.
He was born on August 17, 1898, and worked as a builder in Heanor, until he enlisted as a corporal in the King’s Royal Rifle Regiment.
Walter was living in Langley Mill with his wife when the First World War broke out in 1914.
Two years later, at just 18 years old, Walter was sent to fight in the Battle of the Somme.
Also known as the Somme Offensive, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the Great War, with the British suffering 420,000 casualties alone.
It took place between July 1, and November 18, 1916, on both sides of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War One, in which more than one million men were wounded or killed.
Walter was one of those wounded soldiers, with serious injuries sustained to his arms, but still he managed to save his comrades.
On arriving home in 1916, he was awarded the Military Medal.
After settling back into civilian life, Walter returned to the building industry and also acted as chairman of the Heanor branch of the Royal British Legion.
He continued to live Langley Mill with his wife and four children. He is buried in Marlpool Cemetery.
Proud daughter Sheila Clifton, the youngest and only surviving child of Walter, said her dad was an inspiration.
The 84-year-old said: “My dad was a true hero, and I am so proud of what he did for our country. He fought through pain and injuries like many of the soldiers did.
“I am so grateful that he was rewarded with the Military Medal for his services to Queen and country.”
The medal was passed down to Sheila and she will continue to pass it down the family. The heirloom will serve as a reminder of his bravery for many years to come, she said.
Walter’s dad William Charity had been a driver in RAF, and also fought in the Great War. He is buried at Aldercar. The News is asking readers to donate their pennies and loose change, or more if you can afford it, to our appeal to raise enough to plant trees to act as ‘living memorials’ to the area’s Great War heroes.
How you can donate to the Pennies appeal: You can leave your jam jars/pennies with the reception staff at Amber Valley Borough Council’s central office on Market Place, Ripley.
You can also drop them at Market Place Cafe, Market Place, Ripley. Just ask staff for details. At our offices at 8 Heanor Road, Ilkeston, DE7 8ER. And you can also help the Ripley branch of the British Legion with information on our war heroes, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 0115 9446188.